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Awecomm CEO: Referrals Lead To Stronger Customer Relationships

CJ Fairfield

There are two things that happen when an MSP gets a referral: The person who was referred stays longer, and the person who did the referring also stays longer, says Brent Yax, CEO of MSP Awecomm Technologies.

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The basis of referrals all comes down to the relationships, reminding people what MSPs do and using social channels like LinkedIn to find more leads, according to Brent Yax, CEO of Troy, Mich.-based MSP Awecomm Technologies.

“That’s the reality of referrals,” he said. “Unfortunately, you may think that you have a great relationship with somebody and they know you [deliver] great service. They know everything that you do, and then they just don’t actually tell anybody about you. So the issues with referrals are they’re frustrating, they’re hard. It feels like you have to constantly remind people of what you do to be able to get the business.”

But there are a ton of benefits from sales referrals, he said, as they shorten the sales cycle and make it easier.

Yax spoke to MSPs at CRN parent company The Channel Company’s XChange NexGen conference in Orlando, Fla.

There are two things that happen when an MSP gets a referral: The person who was referred stays longer, and the person who did the referring also stays longer, Yax said.

“You have a better client relationship because of that referral,” he said.

In fact, he said there’s a 277 percent increase in closing a deal through a referral than through a cold call.

“So you are working one-third of the amount to get those sales,” he said.

And people refer because they like to help others.

“You get a little feeling of importance, acceptance and belonging,” he said. “I’m sharing something with you, we’re both using the same thing. We’re a part of the same group.”

The biggest thing, he said, is trust. Most referrals come from that trusted customer relationship.

“They have to emotionally believe that you are going to provide a great service for them, you are going to help them, you’re going to do something well by them,” he said.

To get those referrals, MSPs must come from the emotional and logical sides.

Here are four ways Yax said MSPs can leverage referrals to gain new business.

Incentive Programs Must Be Meaningful

While incentives typically work, Yax said there are a number of organizations that can’t accept them.

When a company gives a referral, MSPs need to call and ask if it accepts incentives for that referral. If it can’t, a thank-you note will do.

If the customer can accept gifts instead, Yax said it’s important to send a gift that’s meaningful.

“Make it based upon their interests,” he said. “They’re 10 times more likely to hold on to that gift 10 times longer.”

Employee Referrals Make For Happy Employees

Hiring an employee from a recommendation of a current employee is a fantastic way to hire employees, Yax said.

“The people they tend to refer are similar to them,” he said. “They work similarly to that. So if they’re a good employee of yours, you generally get another good employee. Why not expand that to your customers?”

It creates a better relationship with employees because if their friend is working with them, they’re more than likely going to stay on longer, he said.

One thing Awecomm Technologies does is say to customers, “We love working with you, you are a great customer of ours. We‘re hiring. If you have any friends at your job, we’d love to hire them,” Yax said.

That in turn creates a better relationship with the customer.

Reverse Referrals Can Reduce Costs

When an MSP calls a vendor, “They know that you’re a warm lead, they know you’re happy,” Yax said.

“Now on the other hand, if you know somebody who’s using [that vendor] already, and you contact that person and say, ‘Hey, can you send this email to so and so vendor to say, ’I know Brent is looking for something like this and not sure if you guys are a good fit, but give Brent a call,’” he said.

So now that vendor can get another lead and wants the business. In turn, MSPs can ask for more incentives and discounts because they want to land the sale.

“That reverse referral is a method to lessen your costs with that relationship,” he said.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Connects To A Team’s Connections

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a feature of LinkedIn used for modern selling to help grow sales pipelines through professional targeting and understanding and engaging prospects.

“The good part about LinkedIn Navigator is you can see everything out there, you can see all these contacts,” he said.

Customers who use Sales Navigator have access to TeamLink, which is a tool that allows users to view their team‘s connections.

“What‘s really cool about LinkedIn is that if I’m sharing a contact with you and I can now see [your] contacts, what TeamLink does is allows me to do that same thing for any single person on LinkedIn regardless if I‘m connected to them or not,” Yax said. “I can see the shared contacts of anyone I want. It’s a super powerful tool.”

Once Yax has TeamLink partners, he builds a list of all the contacts he’s found and filters through to the companies he’s interested in reaching out to. He then can easily see if executives of those companies have a mutual connection with him. That mutual connection can now make that introduction between the MSP and the potential customer.

“I have a list of all the target accounts that I want with a personal introduction,” he said. “I’ve already made the trusted relationship because I was personally introduced to them from somebody else.”

Nathan Archer, founder and director of business development of New York City-based MSP A&H Technology Group, told CRN that Yax made him realize that he’s not doing enough around his sales platform.

“We don’t have a referral program,” he said. “If I have a referral program or if I use Navigator for LinkedIn, we would grow maybe 20 [percent] to 30 percent, which would grow my revenue greatly. I’m going to talk to my people, we’re going to analyze Sales Navigator and understand the mechanics and how it works.”

CJ Fairfield

CJ Fairfield is an associate editor at CRN covering solution providers, MSPs and distributors. Prior to joining CRN, she worked at daily newspapers, including The Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey and The Frederick News-Post in Maryland. She can be reached at cfairfield@thechannelcompany.com.

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